Nov. 21, 2020 will be the fifth running of the HEROES Marathon event, this year with COVID precautions in place and a virtual option offered. In addition to the marathon, there are half marathon and relay distances, plus a 5 and 10K. The finish line for all is in Lions Club Park, Rolla. All proceeds are donated to local veteran’s causes. To register, volunteer, become a sponsor, or for more information, visit website www.heroesmarathon.com.
David Dawsey ran the HEROES marathon by accident. “In November of 2018, a friend invited me to do a run for Veterans, so I signed up online for HEROES- only to find out he meant another run, a 5K!” Undaunted, David decided to run the 26.2-mile course from Salem to Rolla, with no marathon training. A soldier at Fort Leonard Wood, Dawsey was in great physical condition, but running 26.2 miles of Ozark hills is tough. After crossing the finish line, Dawsey said, “I couldn’t walk for two days afterwards! But once I recovered, I couldn’t wait to run again.” He returned to run the HEROES marathon in 2019, this time aligned with Mission 22, an organization which hopes to end veteran suicide. On Nov. 21, Dawsey will run HEROES marathon for the third time, once again carrying the US Flag, and representing Mission 22 as an Ambassador.
Mission 22 was founded in 2014 by three Special Operations soldiers who had faced Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). Mission 22’s goals are to raise awareness, enlist support, and end veteran suicide in the US. Specifically, they provide treatment programs to veterans with PTS, TBI, and other issues, as well as assisting veteran families in need; building memorials, and raising social awareness to prevent veteran suicide. An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide per day in the US; hence the name, Mission 22.
SSG Dawsey plans to coordinate a water station on the HEROES course, symbolically, at Mile 22. Carrying a flag while running 26.2 miles places additional strain on the runner, so Dawsey has been designing a frame to carry the flag. “Running used to be my least favorite activity, but now I find that it provides me with a time to think. There is a state I get into while running- I’m less stressed out,” Dawsey states. He has begun a running group at Fort Leonard Wood. Married with two children, Dawsey is originally from Colorado, and has been in the Army 14 years. He deployed to Afghanistan from 2011-2012. “It is so important to talk about our experiences, to heal,” he states; he plans to become a Licensed Social Worker after Army retirement, and team with Mission 22.
Of the HEROES Marathon Event, Dawsey states, “the way it is put together is amazing. At the Pasta Party (the night before the race) you know who you are supporting. The water stations are set up so well. The causes, the pasta dinner, the finish line- it is astounding, really, the amount of community support. Don’t change the route or the hills!” he adds.